Friday, July 30, 2010

~tangerine dream skirt regress~

Thanks for all your encouraging comments about my Tangerine Dream Skirt!

I went back and checked the pattern, and  found the pocket yoke does not fit the front properly (naughty Burda!) and this is what is causing the pocket to gape.  Luckily I have enough fabric to recut the yokes so I can enlarge the waist, and maybe even add a hem band to lengthen the skirt.

So I today have unpicked all that topstitching....., and no prizes for guessing what I'm doing in the weekend!

In the meantime - hope you have a lovely one!

Muriwai Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, May 2008

Sherry :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

~tangerine dream skirt~

tangerine  n. - a widely cultivated variety of mandarin orange the same colour as my new skirt!
dream n. - a fanciful vision of the conscious mind that I can still wear skirts above my knees!

Do I look happy with my new skirt?

I thought this fabric would make up nicely in a tulip skirt - so I used Burdastyle #114 from March 2008.  Before I knew it I had it cut out - with no calico, and knowing full well at 55cm it was going to be short.  A natural born risk-taker, that's me.  Cross your fingers, she'll be right, I said.  Well, not this time.  It's kinda cute, but it needs so many irritatingly minor changes - I really should have made my own pattern to begin with!

List of negatives:
  • pocket gapes near top when worn - looks OK flat though
  • drag lines occur in bias area between pleats, even worse with hand in pocket
  • topstitching is puckering - stitch tension probably too tight
  • waist too small for me - I knew it would be - was I in denial?
  • hip curve wrong shape for me - I knew it would be - probably was in denial
  • it's too short for me - I knew it would be - obviously in total utter denial...
The fabric is a chintzy cotton twill, and I really love the colour - not bright orange, not burnt orange, just my favourite orange.  I haven't worn it much in the past, and I've just discovered that if you have blue eyes, orange really makes them stand out!

Some detail shots:

My zip may not be the perfect colour, but my topstitching lines up!  I also topstitched the pocket at 1cm because it looked lonely untopstitched.  You can see I used a hem facing for the front, rather than cutting the hem on - there was no way the hem and topstitching would sit flat with the curvature of the hem.  I fused all topstitched areas to avert wrinkles.

I'm really disappointed, with myself really, for wasting my favourite-colour-orange fabric.  I really liked the idea of this skirt with a simple white tank and these natural sandals for summer, and maybe jandals* for the beach.  I had visions of wearing it with khaki, or olive.  It even coordinates with my cherry camisole, and I think a glimpse of orange would have looked great flashing out from under my trenchcoat, when I finally get it finished.....

Oh well!

*jandals - popular rubber footwear made in New Zealand since 1957, known elsewhere in the world as thongs or flip-flops.  Inspired by the japanese sandal, Jandals became so popular that the trademarked brand name evolved into part of the language, and today in New Zealand it is commonly used to describe any manufacturer's brand - even the ubiquitous Havaianas! 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

~bound buttonholes~

If you haven't made bound buttonholes before, sit down and make a few in a row, you will soon get the hang of them.  They aren't hard - you just need to be accurate.  When stitching small areas like this, even an error of 1mm is noticeable - I try to be accurate to within 0.5mm.  And of course 100% wool is more forgiving than the junk I am working with  polyester/viscose/elastane.

I always make a sample buttonhole before beginning one on the actual garment, it is handy to check that you have cut the correct width of welt, determine how far you need to clip, pressing technique, and all those little reassuring things, you know, before you cut into the real thing.....

Your front panels should be blockfused.
Cut rectangles for buttonhole welts to the following measurements:
  • finished buttonhole length + 2cm
  • finished buttonhole width x 4, + cloth allowance, ie a little bit extra
Finished buttonhole length = button size + button thickness.
The width can be whatever you like - I like 3mm welts, so the width of my finished buttonholes is 6mm.  I cut these welts 28mm wide (24mm + 4mm cloth allowance):

Mark the centre of the rectangle with a light press, then hard press the edges to the centre line so that the edges butt:

Mark button position on garment with a dot, and mark button position and finished buttonhole length on the welt with dots.  The button position is usually 2-3mm from the buttonhole end.

Stitching the welts:
Place welts, raw edges uppermost, on right side of garment and align button position markings exactly.  Ensure welt is perpendicular to front edge.
Stitch along the centre of a welt, between the dots marking the finished buttonhole length.  Check length is accurate and stitching is perpendicular to CF:

Stitch along the centre of the other welt between your dots, and once again check the length is accurate - stitching should start and finish even with first line of stitching (or to within 0.5mm) - it can be useful to count your stitches as you sew to achieve this.  The two lines of stitching should also be parallel:

Check the reverse as well:

Have fun repeating this exercise in accuracy for all your other buttonholes ;)

Check again that all stitching is parallel, perpendicular to the CF, and equal in length.  You can see I do a lot of checking!  Accuracy is the secret, so now is the time to unpick and make it perfect - once you have cut it is too late.....

Making the cuts:
Without cutting the front, cut down the centre of the welt between the butted edges to separate them:

Now cut the actual buttonhole opening.  I first fold it in half and nick the middle with the tip of my shears:

Then cut towards the corners, stopping 6mm short of the ends.  Clip diagonally into the corners, clipping close enough that your corner will turn smoothly, without clipping past the corner.  This is where you will be thankful that you did a test buttonhole - you did do a test buttonhole, didn't you? ;-)

Turn the welts through to the wrong side, being gentle with the corners:

They will look a bit random to begin with, but don't worry - a light press and a wiggle will square them up:

The end is in sight:
To stitch down the ends of the buttonholes, first ensure the corner is sitting square:

Then fold back the front at the end of the buttonhole, so the fold is perpendicular to the welts, and stitch the clipped triangle to the welts, in line with your fold:

Check the end is square (the left end here is yet to be secured):

Repeat for the other end, then trim and grade the ends of the welts to reduce bulk:

Facing the buttonhole:
Now you will need to make an opening in the front facing to make your buttonhole functional and cover the raw edges.
Placement of the opening on the front facing may differ to the placement of the buttonhole on the front, due to turn of cloth.  Once the front facing is attached, buttonhole positioning can be offset 3-6mm, so I determine the exact placement once the front facing is on.  To do this, place pins through the corners of the buttonhole to mark its exact position on the facing.  Mark 3mm in from the ends with dots.
Cut rectangles of silk organza about the same size as the buttonhole welts, and using your dots as a guide, sew them to the right side of the front facing in a rectangle the same size as your finished buttonhole:

Clip the buttonhole opening as before, then turn the organza through to the wrong side and press:

Fold the facing into position, and check that the buttonhole and facing hole align:

Slipstitch the edges of this opening to the reverse of your buttonhole:

Now your buttonhole looks almost as good on the inside as the outside!
Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

~the twist dress~

I've finally finished the twist dress! 

It has been sitting on the mannequin, conveniently concealed by my partially made trenchcoat, ever since I did this:

Mmm. Moving right along...

All I had to complete was the zip, armhole facings and hem, so really it was finished in no time.  I tend procrastinate on projects that aren't going as planned, and sometimes I just have to say to myself "finish it now, or else!".  

The pattern is Butterick 4598 and cost only 70c in it's day - I don't think you can even buy a packet of chewing gum for 70c now!  I couldn't find the exact year of issue for this pattern so if anyone does know, please share!

It is a straight shift dress with square armholes, a keyhole front with button tab, and pockets in the side front seam. The front yoke is cut in one with the back panel, so it ends up on the bias which is probably quite nice if you are using a check/plaid fabric, but not so good for getting a nice square tab - it changes shape every time I look at it:

I used some lightweight 100% wool twill in an inky colour, an end piece leftover from some menswear-styled trousers that we ran.  I just had enough yardage to squeeze out this dress and had to cut around a couple of mystery holes in the cloth!  I also found a relatively unremarkable solo button from my stash that happens to be the right size and colour, so took the opportunity to use it up.

A couple of pattern quirks:
  • Despite being above the knee in the illustration, this dress ends at my knee, and I am average height at 5'6".  I cut it longer with the intention of it being knee-length, and didn't need to. 
  • The front is eased onto the yoke which is very weird to me - I see no reason for it because the bust dart is adequate. The easing onto the bias area is slightly rippled despite a good steaming, and I would eliminate it if I made this again. 
  • I would recommend redrafting the armhole facing in one with the neck and keyhole facing to neaten the inside.  If only I had enough cloth!

By the way that is not the door to our house, that is the door to our garden shed.  I am supposed to strip it and paint it one day, but for now I am sewing loving it's authenticity.

I didn't bother toiling this pattern, so was a little concerned how the boxy look would suit me.  I quite like how it just skims my hips and hides my (non)waist.  At a size 34" it is a fraction small but wearable as long as I don't slouch!.  I really should have done a sway back adjustment, and the bust dart sits a bit high in the photos so I better wear another style bra I wear with this - the one I have on has major padding going on below the bust. 

Overall I quite like it - and I know I won't be able to keep my hands out of those pockets!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

~who needs an excuse anyway~

Mmm... a Global Fabrics bag, this looks interesting...

I wonder if I can squeeze in here...

Oooh yes!  There's even room to turn around...

Man this is g-r-o-o-v-y!...

shake ~ shake ~ shake ~ scratch ~ chew ~ rip!

...several minutes and out-of-focus photos later:

Purr, purr...there's a few holes in this bag now,  I do hope she doesn't mind having to get another one...

"Not at all Tiggy, and please don't feel the slightest bit guilty!"

Sunday, July 4, 2010

~trench coat progress~

It rained most of the day today, and my favourite way to spend a rainy day is at the sewing machine!  I started sewing my trenchcoat, which I have been putting off because of buttonhole-size-and-type procrastination. 

I finally took the plunge and decided to do bound buttonholes, even though trenches usually have keyhole buttonholes, and even though I haven't chosen my buttons yet, and even though I think this fabric could fray a bit.  After testing on a scrap, I decided they looked really nice, and if they didn't last I would just have to make another trench in different fabric!

So here is my partially assembled shell, with all its parts in various stages of make and unmake:

I've only done the gun flap buttonhole so far.  I want to double-check the positioning before I start the ones on the wrap, although it would have been easier if I had done these at the beginning with less bulk around.

So I suppose that will be tomorrows job!  Hopefully I'll also get the back storm flap done and the collar. 

It actually looks rather cool sleeveless - I think I may need a trenchdress for summer.....

Saturday, July 3, 2010

~tricks of the trade: all-in-one facings~

While I was making my grey tweed dress, I thought I'd also make a tutorial on how to sew an all-in-one neck and armhole facing.  I have noticed a few facing-phobic sewers out there in blogland - so hopefully this will help someone!

I am a big fan of facings - if they are well designed and correctly sewn they give a stable professional finish.  I'm not a fan of lining right to the edge of a garment because a) it is noticeable, and b) it doesn't wear very well.  Normally I would use self-fabric facings, but here I am using some black lightweight wool because I didn't have enough tweed for the facings!

First check your pattern is correct, or draft your own facing - trace around your pattern pieces, and cut about 2-4mm off the neck and armhole edges for cloth allowance.   Sketch in your lower edge something like the shape above, and add a seam allowance to this edge if you are going to attach lining to it. 
Before cutting your facings, blockfuse them - facings are one area where blockfusing really shows its worth!
Sew the shoulder and side seams of your outer shell, including inserting the zip.
Sew the shoulder and side seams of your facings.
Press seams open.
Sew facing to zip edge first as in this tutorial
Sew facing to dress along neckline, clip, understitch and press.  Your seam should now lie 1-2mm inside your dress like this:

Now check your armholes - if you have estimated cloth allowance correctly, the raw edges of your facing should lie 2-4mm short of the shell as it does below.  If you haven't got it right, you can trim it slightly (unless you are working in production, when you inform the patternmaker!). 

To bag out the armhole, start at the shoulder:

I usually fold the seam allowances inwards (as above), then reach up between the facing and shell and pinch them together with my fingers, and pull them through.  This way you end up with the right sides together the way you want to begin sewing:

Start sewing at the shoulder seam:

and sew down to the side seam, and up the other side, matching any notches and manouvering the fabric as you go. It is important to align all notches and seams so that no twisting occurs, and try not to stretch the fabric around the curves or you could mishape the armhole.

Sew right to your start point at the shoulder seam:

Clip, turn, then understitch the facing (to understitch, stitch through facing and seam allowance, 1mm from seam - shown below).  Begin at, or as close as you can to the shoulder seam, stitching down towards the side seam and up again to the shoulder seam as far as you can neatly go:

If your shoulder strap is wide you will be able to understitch right around the armhole, for this style I could only stitch to within 3cm of the shoulder seam:

Press, and admire your work! 

I hope this helps in your sewing!  As usual, I am happy to answer any questions in the comments.

And in case you are wondering, the boucle check fabric is soon going to be a Chanel jacket!